Bloomberg May Join US Elections
Billionaire and former New York City mayor, Michael Bloomberg, has begun signalling he may enter the Democratic presidential race. A former moderate Republican and worth an estimated $ 52 billion, he had made noises earlier about a presidential run. After former vice-president Joe Biden entered the fray, Bloomberg indicated in March he no longer felt he needed to run. Biden’s struggle to impose himself on the Democratic race may have rekindled Bloomberg’s interest. It also reflects alarm among liberal establishment figures that the Democrats are moving too far left and giving President Donald Trump a chance at re-election. If he joins, Bloomberg will have a lot of work ahead of him. An early November Fox News polls said only six per cent of likely Democratic primary voters would cast a ballot for the billionaire. Some analysts say Bloomberg’s actual numbers are less than two per cent. If Biden stumbles, a centrist slot could open up, though Peter Butigieg of Indiana, the only gay candidate, seems to be drifting into that space.
Warren Bets on Healthcare
Elizabeth Warren, the number two Democratic candidate, saw her numbers drop after announcing plans for a universal healthcare programme, Medicare for All. She was evasive on how this could done without raising middle-class taxes. Media commentary of her health plan was 70 per cent negative. Warren has made healthcare one of the pillars of her campaign along with higher taxes on the wealthy and the breakup of Silicon Valley big tech and Wall Street’s big finance.
The data shows Warren is the favourite number two candidate for the supporters of all the other major candidates. As the race tightens, Warren is best positioned to pick up supporters from other rivals. She also leads in Iowa and New Hampshire, the two states that will kick off the primaries next year. She averaged 21.5 per cent in national polling on November 6, but is seven points off her peak in October and trailing Biden by the same margin.
Bernie Sanders, who remains a close number three, did well during the November television debates and allayed fears voters would drop him following a heart attack.
Blue Wave in US Local Polls
If local elections are a harbinger of next year’s national elections, the Democrats are on a strong wicket. Since Trump has come to power the Democrats have unseated nine Republican governors compared to zero by the other party. These included states like Wisconsin, Michigan and Kentucky that voted for Trump. Blue candidates also won two senatorial seats in core Republican states in the US South. This month saw Democrats take both houses of the state assembly in Virginia, another conservative state.
Election analysts like Nate Silver say these local victories show that the Republican-leaning suburban voter is in play. Urban seats trend heavily Democrat and rural ones Republican. Their strength in the suburbs has guaranteed the present Republican dominance of US politics. Demographic change, rising education and ethnic shifts have been changing the suburbs, but a dislike for Trump may be accelerating the process.
A study by political scientists Ruy Texeira and John Halpin has shown the US electorate next year will be 29 per cent non-white, 30 per cent college-educated whites and 42 per cent poorly-educated whites. The first two groups lean Democrat, the last Republican. Trump sealed his victory by winning a third of the non-white vote, 40 per cent of educated whites as well two-thirds of non-educated whites. In some midwestern states the uneducated white population is unusually large, like Michigan and Wisconsin, and swung to Trump.
The trends in US local elections indicate this coalition may be harder to maintain with non-whites and educated whites backing Democrats more strongly. Analysts point to civic and congressional elections in places like Hamilton Country in Indiana and southwest St Louis in Missouri, Republican suburban strongholds which experienced unusually strong pro-Democrat swings. With leftist Democratic candidates wooing the white working class with welfare schemes, Texeira and Halpin believe it could possible for a Democratic candidate to take back “Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin and carry the Electoral College by 279 votes to 259 votes.”
Trump Mildly Embattled
Trump continues to battle an impeachment process launched by the Democratic-controlled lower house of Congress. The accusation is that Trump asked the Ukrainian government to provide information he could use against Joe Biden and this is an impeachable offence. With the Senate firmly in the Republican fold and few Republicans willing to take on their president, the impeachment is unlikely to do much other than chip away at the president’s approval rating. So far, Trump’s ratings have held steady in the 42-44 per cent band. The Democrats continue to hope investigations will throw up something even more damaging.
Figures show that the Trump administration has lost 41 per cent of its cabinet secretaries, deputy secretaries and undersecretaries over the past four years. This is an unusually high turnover, much greater than previous presidencies.
Though irrelevant to elections, new studies are saying the record low unemployment levels may be a long-term negative for the US economy. Much of the hiring is being done at the expense of capital investment because firms are concerned at the uncertainty caused by the US-China trade war, the US elections and other events. Instead they are hiring workers because they can be easily dismissed later on. Economist are pointing to the slowing productivity figures as the flashing red light. The US’s productivity increases have been “the secret sauce” of the economy’s past success.
November 15, 2019